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August 16, 2012

Comments

"here's a fatal flaw in atheism's worldview that undercuts their claim to know reality."

Any atheist claiming to know reality are claiming far too much. Any scientist doing the same claims too much and in fact probably doesnt understand the commonly accepted philosophical underpinnings of science. This is GSCE level science in the UK. So the answer to this question:

"Maybe we still should ask: How do we know what's true on scientific naturalism?" - is that we don't. You want real, do philosphy.

"Naturalism leaves us without knowledge, only interpretations. This is a fatal flaw for a worldview that claims to explain the world in purely physical terms and claim to be true and knowable."

Science doesnt claim any sort of truth.

Atheism doesnt rely on science at all. Atheism is just lack of belief in the arguments that theists put forward for belief in god(s).

Science relies on metaphysical naturalism for a very good reason - its makes no metaphysical claims. It models reality - what we perceive - to create concepts about our perception (via our sense) about reality. What we perceive and what is 'real' maybe completely unconnected - who knows? But in questioning that issue, one is doing philosophy.

So I absolutely agree with Scott Smith when he says "Yet for all their professed enlightenment, these "brights" fail to grasp a major blind-spot: their view of science actually cannot give us knowledge of reality." But this isnt a 'blind spot at all. One has to start with some assumptions about the world. Science does it, religion does it, maths does it, philsophy does it, logic does it.

Professor Smith finishes:

"In all, it seems likely the best explanation for these non-physical things is that there exists a Creator after all. That seems more reasonable to believe than evolution by NS or naturalism."

Seriously? The most robust theory in science doubted because of some half baked claims over the nature of thought? Depressing to say the least. By not defining his terms unfortunately Prof Scott opens himself to criticism - I mean that is the nicest possible way.

These are interesting questions but the article cited lacks rigour. Not to mention a horrible blurring of the lines of atheism and science which are 2 entirely different issues.

Not all 'atheists' think this way. Then again, I wouldnt accuse theists of lack logic and reason. What i would say is that when we compare some clams of some theists against observational reality (creationism, ID etc) the minority theits claims fall very short. That's why the catholic curch and the Church of England both accept the ToE and our current thinking on Cosmology etc etc i.e. science in general. Religion and Science and non-overlapping Magisteria - something Dawkins doesnt holkd to, but even great minds can be wrong (Newton, Einstein etc etc etc etc)

I suspect my points will raise some debate but that's a good thing

The theory of evolution is a worldview and has no scientific credibility at all. There is no evidence for the evolutionary theory and "the survival of the fittest" only shows that those that survived simply survived it can't show anything about their fitness. The beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord.

squallybimbadine

"The theory of evolution is a worldview and has no scientific credibility at all."

This is a woefully incorrect assertion. It's backed up by every branch of science and it has survived every attempt to falsify it. The Pope and the Church of England don't have a problem with it - why do you?

It's a matter of definitions.


This is simply a question on the definition of know. It is the same question as the question on the definition of experience. Reproducible and repeatable fluxes of photons across lipid bi-layers tells us nothing of reality, for all we “know”, as misperceptions just that way simply repeat and reproduce. Illusion may or may not be our reality, for we “know”. The cloud up in the sky in which a myriad of aimlessly reverberating particles temporally forms the shape of the hand of Jesus up in the sky then, blown by other aimless reverberations, appears to wave at us, and we are mistaken to assign such a temporary cloud any experiencing of itself waving or any knowing of whom it waves at. Compacting more and more of such aimless dominos into the smaller space provided by the human skull changes nothing. The cloud up in the sky in which aimless reverberations give the illusion of the hand of Jesus waving at us is not thus "experiencing" itself waving at us, and, if it is "experiencing/knowing", then the "illusion" of the Christian God is just as "real" if that's what "real" ultimately "is". The materialist cannot have it both ways.

If the theist’s “experience of God” is repeatable and reproducible (and it is just that ubiquitous in the human element) and is nothing more than the identical set of aimless clouds as the materialist’s clouds, then both are “true” and both thus “know truth” if that is all such things ultimately “are” at the end of the falling dominos. The materialist tries, quite hard, to have it both ways, and this unsuccessfully, for he fails to assign anything other than repeatable fluxes of photons across lipid bi-layers. He here differentiates psychosis from sanity by a mere [majority rules] criteria, which tells us nothing about the realness or lack thereof of the “illusion fluxes”. The universe out there may be, for we “know”, full of pink elephants, and the minority have evolved far enough along to “see” them while the rest of us merely need to “catch up”.

We must define "know" just as we must define "experience".


"even great minds can be wrong (Newton, Einstein etc etc etc etc)" you should add the Pope and the Church of England to that list.

How exactly is science any less knowledgeable if I don't start with the assumption of theism or non-naturalism? What does it affect in scientific theory whether or not the person who makes it believes or does not believe in God? Are the hypotheses or conclusions somehow dependent on this? This objection to "naturalism" seems ultimately irrelevant.

Mike-

If science makes no truth claims how could there even be an attempt to falsify the theory of evolution, let alone an attempt that the theory has survived?

Obviously, you get one or the other, but not both.

For the record, I think parts of some scientific theories (including evolution) are falsifiable, so I reject your assertion that science makes no truth claims.

I think, BTW, that you are right about what science really is. It is an effort to develop theoretical constructs that help us catalog and understand our experiences and the relationships of our experiences one to another. In so doing, it makes any number of truth claims. Like "If I add these two reagents together, I will observe them turning purple and bubbling" or some such.

I think that the term "Naturalism" is being used as a synonym for "Materialism" in the passage above. And the matter that the naturalist/materialist is claiming as fundamental is mind-independent.

Now, given what science is, Naturalism, so understood, has no place in it.

Every branch of science consists of people who need a reason to get paid. Psychiatrists don't have a job if there are no psychological problems. Why are scientists considered infallible? Evolutionary faith is deception.

The whole silly piece is a classic case of the hatred of the mind by atheists versus the hatred of the body by Evangelicals.

WisdomLover

No. Science makes no truth claims in that it does not say 'this is what reality is really like'. How could it? What experiment can you design to tell the difference between what we observe - "observational reality" and how things really are - reality. So truth in a strict sense is what religion and philosophy seek. Not science.

So we can falsify theories on the basis of whether they model observational reality corectly. Take Newtonian Physics and Relativity as a classic example. Newtonian Physics was good but not as accuarte as relativity. GPS professes to relativity being a very good model - but its not 'real'.

So being falsifiable and being 'true' or 'real' are entirely different concepts and not related.

"In so doing, it makes any number of truth claims. Like "If I add these two reagents together, I will observe them turning purple and bubbling" or some such.""

That isnt a truth claim. That's a claim about observational reality. You are talking about truth in a colloquial sense - the colour purple is what your perceive and is therefore observational reality - its not 'real'.

"Now, given what science is, Naturalism, so understood, has no place in it."

Seeing as methodological naturalism is an axiom of science, I have to disagree. To do science you have to assume methodological naturalism. If you assume something else, you aint doing science.

Explain to me why you think you can do science in other ways?

squallybimbadine

"Every branch of science consists of people who need a reason to get paid."

Seeing as practically every home comfort you have relies on science I think that is a strange thing to say. The clothes you wear, the food you eat, the house you live in, the medecine that cures you, the car you drive, the TV you watch - science.

"Why are scientists considered infallible?"

They arent. See above wrt Newton/Einstein etc. Science TRIES to tear down theories. That's part of the method. You are confusing dumb journalism with science.

PaulR-

Who hates the body? I personally love bodies. I'd guess I have a far more robust love of bodies than any materialist. After all, most materialists view bodies as invisible cloud-like things of mostly nothing that bear no resemblance at all to my experience of bodies.

I love bodies just as they are with all their colors and shapes and other qualities.

I just don't think that bodies exist independent of the mind.

Mike,

You dismiss all truth claims made through "science" as merely "observational reality" and not "real" in some other sense. Can you explain what "real" really is?

PaulR,

The evangelical bashing is getting a little old.

A happy former catholic,
JW

Mike wrote:

"That isnt a truth claim. That's a claim about observational reality."

That sir is a distinction without a difference if I ever saw one!

WisdomLover

"For the record, I think parts of some scientific theories (including evolution) are falsifiable"

How would the theory of evolution be falsified?

Mike,

Science is the creation of God. If I discover how something works then I can't conclude that God didn't make it that way. God's knowledge is more quantitative and more qualitative. I see the "discoveries" of science as being God's mercy toward us and it is a part of His plan in some way.

If the Pope and the church of England want to believe in evolution then that will be up to them. I don't hold a view of Truth to be controlled by an epistemological democracy where if enough people believe it then it is true.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the
earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling
place, (Acts 17:26 ESV)

This verse should be sufficient to derail any notion that evolution will comport with
the Christian worldview. I know there are a lot of people who don't see it that way.

Punctuated equilibrium is a particularly interesting theory. It basically concludes
(not openly) that the evidence for evolution is that there can't be any evidence for it. Stephen Gould finally admitted that evolution was never meant to be a scientific theory. It is simply a worldview.

I have a theory about all those fossils they have found to try and support evolution. I think they are the bones of aliens that died from crashed space crafts over the years. All I have to do is get enough people to go along with it. I don't need
evidence. Maybe if the pope agrees with me and I can pay a scientist to do some
favorable research then it will catch on. He has to be able to afford all those modern comforts as well. What should I try to refute with my "theory"? Oh, I
know....atheism. (of course I really don't believe in aliens)

Brianhunt

I cant explain it any better than to point out that there may well be a difference between what we perceive and what actually is. How can we tell? We cant. We have to access the world via our senses and that's that. That's the natural world.

However, to claim that that is all there is, is naiive (and I dont mean that pejoratively). But our ability to know the supernatural is necessarily limited.

It raises interesting questions about the relationship between observational reality and reality - are they congruent? Is it mere correlation? etc etc

Does that explain it?

John

"That sir is a distinction without a difference if I ever saw one!"

You clearly arent using the word true in the way that I am

squallybimbadine

"I see the "discoveries" of science as being God's mercy toward us and it is a part of His plan in some way. "

Like the vaccine for Smallpox? Charming.

"I don't hold a view of Truth to be controlled by an epistemological democracy where if enough people believe it then it is true"

1. True here is in the colloquial sense.
2. Science isnt like that - one compares models to observational reality. If they work they survive until the next round of testing and there are numerous ways that can happen.

"Punctuated equilibrium is a particularly interesting theory. It basically concludes
(not openly) that the evidence for evolution is that there can't be any evidence for it."

That's simply not the case. It's sad to hear you say that - I guess science isnt for everyone. Meanwhile all the antibiotics you presumably take have been produced because evolution works. It models what we observe accuaretly. PE is a mere tweak to a beautufl theory. Next you'll be telling me Hubbles work on Cepheids was rubbish because all the plots didnt lie exactly on a straight line. You are picking and choosing where you like science and where you dont.

Interesting that you dont really believe in Aliens - why not? (and please dont come back at me assuming that I do)

Im interested that the discussion has drifted towards "vent your spleen about evolution" but lets be clear: if somone comes up with substantial evidence to falsify the ToE then I'll happily discard it.

It would be a seismic moment - in the same way empirical evidence for Higgs is seismic.

Wow, Mike. You are dying the death of the 1000 suicides, "statements" that is...

Hi John, the ex-Catholic. I was an ex-Catholic, too - until I made an effort to find out what Catholicism really taught.

The subtlety passed you by.

My comment was a spin on:
"But worldviews have commitments ingrained in them, and naturalism does not provide a home for knowledge and reason. Theism does."

The Naturalism-bashing is getting rather old, too...

I don't think there is a difference between observational reality and reality. What reason is there to think they are different?

I think I'll be perfectly happy if it becomes observationally real for me that I'm in Heaven as opposed to Hell. I'm not sure what else is added by saying that I'm really in Heaven or Hell in some other sense, I know not what, of "really".

I think that if a statement can be shown to be false, then it must be a truth claim.

I think that methodological naturalism is totally different from Materialism. It's even totally different from Naturalism.

I think this because methodological naturalism is an expression of a good way to proceed in scientific enterprises. In the strictest sense, it's not a claim at all, but a prescription for a certain type of practice.

But I think Naturalism is a claim about whether miracles ever happen. And Materialism is a claim about whether all things are material in nature and whether that matter is itself mind-independent.

But that's just me.

"all the antibiotics you presumably take have been produced because evolution works."

Really? They evolved?

WisdomLover, or is it now BodyLover?

I think you've misread it.
The article's about Naturalism, not Naturism! :)

Seriously. You love bodies? What on earth does that mean? And that's the trouble. Just like what does the piece above mean by 'Naturalism'? I honestly haven't got a clue.

Both Melinda and R Scott Smith's pieces are so semantically ambiguous (and certainly loaded) as to end up being meaningless.

How is this comment of Melinda's coherent, for example:
"Naturalism leaves us without knowledge, only interpretations." It's utter drivel, as if 'knowledge' is one kind of cognitional process, and 'interpretation' is another, or that 'knowledge' is the product of 'mind', whilst 'interpretation' isn't.

I'm sure the 'naturalist' (whoever that means, but we do know it's meant to be a pejorative in Melinda's context) might simply reduce mind to brain - so knowledge and interpretation are perfectly feasible - as is the possibility of them actually discussing it.

The disagreement, surely, must be about what type of cognitive process, or thing, 'mind' is - material or non-material.

But it's a non-sequitur claiming it's something to do with God purely because one believes mind is something immaterial. ('Belief' being yet another 'product' of mind/brain).

That theism offers a home for knowledge and reason, and that Naturalism doesn't, is a totally question-begging claim, even if it's not borne out by the fact that Naturalists have, share, and discover knowledge in exactly the same way I do - otherwise we wouldn't be able to understand each other.

R Scott Smith wrote a book which I read with interest: 'Truth and the New Kind of Christian'.

As there are 'New' Atheists, so there are 'New' Christians, and they share a lot in common. Both are 'emergent', effervescent, and shallow. And these are the problem.

To make a generalised attack on all 'Naturalism' as bad in the way it's been done here, is no different to the way the New Atheists attack all religion as bad in just as generalised a manner.

Mike,

Bottom line for me is, if any aspect of science or anything else is asserted as being superior to God in anyway, then I don't agree with it. Evolution is presented as the facts of science disproving the truth of the Bible. The subtle deception is always harder to spot. Don't let your raft drift out to sea while you're napping.

I don't claim naturalism is true.
I just not convinced your God exists.
Far from it.


RonH

Naturalism and materialism seem to be the same. Induction, deduction, mind vs. Brain and moral absolutes would all be problems for both, I think. Everybody has faith. Empiricism is an idea that can't be truly adhered to. We have to have an assumed starting point in any venture whether it be scientific or theistic. The non theists use of things like induction assumes the Christian worldview (yes that is presuppositionalism).

PaulR-

What does it mean to hate bodies?

I'm not sure whether you're attacking something I said or something someone else said in the rest of your remarks. For example, who is guilty of non sequitur?

The T of E, by the way, has never been proven so it remains in the theory column as unproven.

"I don't think there is a difference between observational reality and reality. What reason is there to think they are different?"

How would you test to see if there is a difference?

"But that's just me."

I see.

squallybimbadine

"Bottom line for me is, if any aspect of science or anything else is asserted as being superior to God in anyway, then I don't agree with it."

What does this even mean? Who said anything about superiority?

"Evolution is presented as the facts of science disproving the truth of the Bible."

Oh, I get it. You don't like the fact that observational reality conflicts with the bible.

That's a shame, because observational reality has to be correct because we can view it, time and time and time again.

The thing is with the ToE - you should really go and learn about it and try and tear it down. Not just say "its wrong because the bible says otherwise". Because you are also implying that you know more about theology than the Pope and The Archbishop of Canterbury.

And I thought reading the bible was all about context.

Wisdomlover

""all the antibiotics you presumably take have been produced because evolution works."

Really? They evolved?"

The process by which antibiotics are produced relies on the application of the ToE to see if they are successful or not.

Volker

"Wow, Mike. You are dying the death of the 1000 suicides, "statements" that is..."

How so Volker? Very easy to say that without engaging in dialogue.

squallybimbadine

"The T of E, by the way, has never been proven so it remains in the theory column as unproven."

Seriously? What do you mean by unproven? This is outrageously ill informed comment.

Science doesn't deal in 'proven' or 'unproven' - only when one talks loosely - and you are talking about ToE so we must be clear about what we mean. Science simply constructs models and adapts them over time to match observational reality. They aren't 'true'.

Proof is for maths and I suppose Law Courts.

You have made your position clear. You want to pick and choose what science you advocate and trust the bible over the painstaking work of science over the last 300 years. Yet again I will point out that the Catholic Church and the Church of England face no such dilemmas and their faith is not impacted by science. Plenty of scientists are theists - not a large proportion, but some. Who cares? Not I. But you do - the vast majority of them recognise that ToE is the best description we currently have for biodiversity on this planet (If you jump on the word 'currently' I will scream)

Meanwhile you benefit everyday of your life from the fact that evolution is the most robust theory in science and you don't even realise it. Its applications reach every facet of your life. The irony is wonderful.

PaulR

"To make a generalised attack on all 'Naturalism' as bad in the way it's been done here, is no different to the way the New Atheists attack all religion as bad in just as generalised a manner."

Here here. Science has NOTHING to say about God. Non overlapping magesteria.

Mike,

The thing is with the ToE - you should really go and learn about it and try and tear it down. Not just say "its wrong because the bible says otherwise". Because you are also implying that you know more about theology than the Pope and The Archbishop of Canterbury.

If those guys think they know more than God then yeah I know more about theology.

By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written,
"That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged." (Romans 3:4 ESV)

Genesis is just a fable to you I suppose. Show me observational reality that makes sense of evolution. That theory is "in its underwear". Evolution hasn't helped me at all. God created me and everything else, not the pope or archbishop or Darwin either.

Hi PaulR the non-Catholic, turned Catholic, turned ex-Catholic, now turned Catholic again,

Is it OK with you if we just table this "evangelical vs catholic" debate you want to have in every STR thread for a couple years? I'm hoping if we wait long enough you'll just change your mind again and there won't be anything to debate.

Cheers,
John

John Willis

I'll second that motion.

Mike wrote: "Meanwhile you benefit everyday of your life from the fact that evolution is the most robust theory in science and you don't even realise it. Its applications reach every facet of your life. The irony is wonderful."

Mike,

I think what you are championing here is micro-evolution, which no one here (I suspect) disagrees with. What is at issue, is macro evolution....the idea that you and I evolved from primordial ooze. The evidence for this view is non-existent. To be sure, the search for "the missing link", or more to the point - the billions of missing links there must be if this hypothesis is true, continues today under the false philosophy of naturalism. (Macro-evolution really is just a hypothesis. Calling macro evolution a theory degrades the word "theory" from the weight the word is given in the scientific method)

Regards,
John

"The process by which antibiotics are produced relies on the application of the ToE to see if they are successful or not."

Really?

I thought that you tested antibiotics by whether they kill bacteria. Is that an application of the theory of evolution?

squallybimbadine

"Genesis is just a fable to you I suppose." Its an allegory. I suppose that's just a posh word for fable. All the evidence points to the fact that the biblical description did not literally take place.

"Show me observational reality that makes sense of evolution." Go to the Natural History Museum in London. You wont read this because you know all the answers already, but try this http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01

That's the difference between you and I. You claim to KNOW all the answers. I dont and neither does science. Science is always provisional.

John Willis

"What is at issue, is macro evolution....the idea that you and I evolved from primordial ooze."

1. That actually sounds like Abiogenesis
2. You have created a really poor strwaman of abiogensis to boot
3. The same processes are at work in 'microevolution' and 'macroevolution' - if you can walk 1 step you can walk 1000 miles - so the difference is semantic

"The evidence for this view is non-existent."

1. The evidence for abiogenesis isnt non existent although we still dont know the exact mechanism or sequence that happened. Who cares?
2. The evidence for evolution is broad and deep

"to be sure, the search for "the missing link", or more to the point - the billions of missing links there must be if this hypothesis is true, continues today under the false philosophy of naturalism"

1. What do you mean by 'missing link'?
2. false philosophy? In what way? Do you want me to explain again why science proceeds on the basis of methodological naturalism? And the fact it does means its been remarkably successful.
3. ToE isnt a hypothesis. Its a theory, and one that's so robust its tantamount to a fact. We know more about Evolution than we do about gravity - but I dont hear you trying to downgrade that to a hypothesis! Remarkable.

Mike,

I agree that we all do "see" by the same mechanisms. What is being missed perhaps is that we question the ability of that mechanism, in a purely materialist sense, to "know Real".

The difference between psychosis and sanity in the materialist's toolbag is simple majority. From my thoughts earlier: Reproducible and repeatable fluxes of photons across lipid bi-layers tells us nothing of reality, for all we “know”, as misperceptions just that way simply repeat and reproduce. Illusion may or may not be our reality, for we “know”. The cloud up in the sky in which a myriad of aimlessly reverberating particles temporally forms the shape of the hand of Jesus up in the sky then, blown by other aimless reverberations, appears to wave at us, and we are mistaken to assign such a temporary cloud any experiencing of itself waving or any knowing of whom it waves at. Compacting more and more of such aimless dominos into the smaller space provided by the human skull changes nothing. If the theist’s “experience of God” is repeatable and reproducible (and it is just that ubiquitous in the human element) and is nothing more than the identical set of aimless clouds as the materialist’s clouds, then both are “true” and both thus “know truth” if that is all such things ultimately “are” at the end of the falling dominos. The materialist tries, quite hard, to have it both ways, and this unsuccessfully, for he fails to assign anything other than repeatable fluxes of photons across lipid bi-layers. He here differentiates psychosis from sanity by a mere [majority rules] criteria, which tells us nothing about the realness or lack thereof of the “illusion fluxes”. The universe out there may be, for we “know”, full of pink elephants, and the minority have evolved far enough along to “see” them while the rest of us merely need to “catch up”.


Pink elephants may be illusion and thus we are correct, but we cannot know this. The minority may have evolved further along and have "eyes" which the rest of us have not developed yet, for all we know. The bedrock of materialism in "know" is Majority-Aimless-Reverberations Across Lipid Bi-Layers.

Mike,

I know Jesus and that's all I'll ever need.

"We know more about Evolution than we do about gravity"

See, it's palpably idiotic statements like this that make me highly skeptical of evolution.

My initial reaction to the theory is that it might be true. Some of the evidence seems pretty compelling to someone like me who is not steeped in the theory. There seem to be some problems (as there are for all scientific theories).

I have a fair idea of how to fit it in with the Biblical creation story that does full justice to both. My means of doing so is a bit idiosyncratic, but I think it works. So the theory doesn't trouble me theologically.

But then I hear people making ridiculous claims like the one above, or, even better, that it is the cornerstone of all science (you think, just maybe, the atomic theory might have a better claim to that), and I start to think that maybe the ToE has just attracted a lot of bad scientists.

Unfair assessment?

Probably.

More unfair than the assessments I see evolutionists routinely throw the other way?

No way.

Test for reality. Cut your arm off. Has it been cut off? Not sure? Retest. Cut your other arm off. At this point you will need an assistant. Has your other arm been cut off? Not sure? You have no more test material. You will have to wonder about this for the rest of your days. Assuming you believe that death will occur.

"See, it's palpably idiotic statements like this that make me highly skeptical of evolution."

Tell me by what mechanism masses are attracted to each other? We know more about the mechanisms of evolution than we do of gravity.

Evolution is pretty much the cornerstone of biology.

"More unfair than the assessments I see evolutionists routinely throw the other way?"

1. What is an evolutionist?
2. Evolution says nothing about god(s) so if people are using it in this way it's their fault, not the theory's.
3. My point is that people miuse science in all sorts of ways. Evolution really isnt hostile to the concept of the Judeo-Christian God. If people think Evolution conficts with the bible, maybe thats down to the way they are interpreting the bible. If people are saying 'evolution disproves god' that is utter nonsense.

Mike,

I read some stuff on the link you provided. It is the same stuff we studied in school. I still don't agree with it. Lots of people want to believe it so they will. So how does induction comport with the random universe needed in order for evolution to get off the ground? You can't have it both ways. All of science rests on the uniformity of nature not the randomness of nature. I see in the world around us the glory and majesty of God in its diversity not the mechanisms of evolution. Here's a link that has some evidence contrary to evolution:

http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evolution%20Hoax/evidences.htm

I believe T of E contradicts the teaching of the Bible. That doesn't seem to be an issue for you, so maybe the evidence against evolution would be more persuasive.

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